A 'D' for defence

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

Sam Mitchell wants his players to stand up and be counted -- and guard somebody. Mitchell slammed his squad this week after losing three successive road games to the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and most recently on Wednesday night to the Golden State Warriors.

The Raptors have shown they can score enough points to win, averaging about 97 a game, but they've dropped to a dreadful 10-21 on the season mainly because they can't defend, especially down the stretch. And that comes from a lack of effort.

"We know we don't have great defenders," Mitchell said. "We don't have a Scotty Pippen. A lot of teams don't, but you have to go out and defend, and give the effort, and show some toughness and some pride and take the challenge night in and night out. And say 'hey, I'm going to hold my guy below his average.'

"I don't know what to say," a frustrated Mitchell continued. "I don't know what you say besides you've got to show some toughness and go out and guard your man.

"Right now, I'm at a loss for words. I've seen things on defence that I've never seen in my life."

What really got Mitchell's goat during Wednesday's 111-105 loss to the Warriors was the fact that a player such as Mike Dunleavy Jr., who has been struggling, goes out and scores 29 points. The night before in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 48 points.

"If a guy is one dimensional (Dunleavy), a catch and shoot player, why would you let him shoot? He can't beat you off the dribble. Why would you let him shoot? I don't know. I have no answers for our defence," Mitchell said, who was asked if all the scoring is perhaps going to his players' heads.

"I don't know if it's going to their heads," he said. "It should go through somebody's heart. And it should hurt when guys who are not scoring 30 points on anyone else come in and score 30 points on you."

Mitchell wouldn't name names, but it's assumed that veteran forward Jalen Rose is one player in the coach's doghouse, given the fact that he has been taken out of the starting rotation. Rose, however, denied he is the unnamed target of Mitchell's wrath.

"I wasn't guarding the guys that went off on us," Rose said. "Kobe Bryant wasn't my assignment. Mike Dunleavy, Jason Richardson weren't my assignments. Tracy McGrady wasn't my assignment. Yao Ming wasn't my assignment. I think it's a team thing. "


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